December 30, 2012

Book Announcement: James Dinnage and Jean-Luc Laffineur, The Constitutional Law of the European Union (3d ed., LexisNexis, 2012)

We’re pleased to report the appearance of a new book of interest to readers.  Network member James Dinnage, along with Jean-Luc Laffineur of the Laffineur law firm in Brussels, have published a new 3d edition of the casebook, The Constitutional Law of the European Union (LexisNexis 2012). Details can be found on the publisher’s page here.  The editors have also provided some additional background on the provenance of the book and its aims, which we provide below the fold.  Congratulations to Dinnage and Laffineur on this new edition!

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In the early 1990s, James Dinnage, at that time an adjunct lecturer, and Professor John Murphy, International Law Professor, both of Villanova University School of Law, embarked on a project to turn class materials developed over several years into an EC law casebook that would be suitable for US law school students.  This effort eventually resulted in a work based specifically on the constitutional aspects of the European Communities and European Union. The first edition was published in 1996.

Although the constitutional theme was already viable, based on developments in the case law and  EC/EU Treaties as they existed at that time, the outlines of the constitutional structure were still rather sketchy. Moreover, it was highly questionable whether the EC should be compared to or portrayed as a form of federal organization in light of its narrow focus on economic integration, while the European Union, while political in nature, was initially only intergovernmental. By 2008, when the second edition of Dinnage and Murphy was published, the scope of the EC itself had broadened considerably, and case law was much more developed, so the constitutional theme seemed more secure. However, it was the entry into effect of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 that fundamentally changed the landscape, by finally producing an integrated Union with clearly identified constitutional components.

The Lisbon Treaty prompted the creation of a third edition, now co-authored by James Dinnage and Jean-Luc Laffineur, of the Laffineur law firm in Brussels, published in 2012. The Foreword was written by Judge Konrad Schiemann of the CJEU.

This edition reflects the constitutional clarity introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in a unique way and is many respects an entirely new creation. The first chapter comprises a "constitutional template" that takes the key constitutional features of the TEU and TFEU and re-orders them in the form of something that as closely as possible resembles what we might identify as a Constitution for the EU. Chapter 1 also includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights set out in tabular form showing the corresponding provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. 

The template finally made it possible to respond to the pleas from U.S. Law school students for a structure that they could readily calibrate against the U.S. Constitution.

Chapter 2 provides a high-level exposition of the provisions set out in the template, while the rest of the book expands in detail on that template, introducing a fundamentally new and (to the authors’ knowledge) unique perspective for students and practitioners alike:
-   an overview of the EU, in terms of its membership, objectives, institutions and autonomous status (equates to the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and the supremacy clause);
-   the components of EU law (constitutional sources and legal acts of the Union);
-   the Union legislature (describing the structure, procedures and powers of each of the relevant institutions);
-   executive powers (describing the structure, procedures and powers of each of the relevant institutions);
-   judicial powers (describing the structure, procedures and powers of each of the relevant institutions);
-   the Union's competences;
-   the limitations on the powers of the Member states, i.e.the provisions that ensure the functioning of the internal market (where the case law is summarized, a necessary inclusion given that the actual treaty provisions on their own scarcely convey the true extent of the TFEU's reach in this regard);
-   the position of the individual in relation to Union law (including fundamental rights and incorporation by reference of the Charter of Fundamental Rights); and
-  relations between the Member States.

The casebook comes with a Documentary Supplement containing the EU and TFEU Treaties, selected protocols and legislation, the Constitution of the United States and the draft Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance.  There is also a Teacher’s Manual.

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